It can be relaxing to listen to the gentle tinkling sounds of a bamboo wind chime blowing softly in the breeze. Buying such a wind chime can set you back a hefty number of hard-earned dollars. But, if you have a few basic DIY skills, there’s no reason why you can’t make one, or even several of your own. Let’s find out how to make a bamboo wind chime.
What You'll Learn Today
- Does Bamboo Make a Good Wind Chime?
- What You Need to Make a Bamboo Wind Chime
- What is the Best String to Use for Wind Chime?
- Instruction for Making a Bamboo Wind Chime
- How do you Care for Bamboo Wind Chimes?
Does Bamboo Make a Good Wind Chime?
The hollow nature of bamboo makes it ideal for making into an attractive wind chime. Bamboo is easy to work with and can easily be fashioned into a wind chime that provides a beautiful and mellow sound without much effort.
Because bamboo is a natural product, it will need to be protected to help it last. This can be done by applying oils, waxes, or varnishes that help protect it from the elements.
Although preferable, it isn’t essential to dry out fresh-cut bamboo before you start making your chime. If you have a bamboo patch in your yard, go right ahead and harvest what you’ll need and start creating.
Within just a few days, your lovely new chime can be blowing itself dry in the breeze while making pleasant sounds for you to listen to.
After a few weeks, be sure to take it down and apply appropriate protective products to prevent it from discoloring from the rain or drying out too much, and splitting in the sun.
What You Need to Make a Bamboo Wind Chime
There aren’t too many ingredients necessary to make your bamboo wind chime, and it’s quite likely you’ll have most of them to hand without the need to buy them.
You’re going to need:
- Bamboo – A few lengths of bamboo stick, preferably thoroughly seasoned, dry, and not split. If you don’t have any bamboo in your yard, or if a neighbor can’t help you out with some of theirs, then you’ll be able to find it at your local garden store. Ideally, you’ll want a bamboo pole of at least one inch in diameter.
- Plywood – A small piece of plywood around 14 to 16 inches square and approximately ¼ inch thick. This is needed to cut three pieces – the hammer that makes your chime give off a sound, a hanger that the chime hangs from, and a wind catcher which helps move your hammer around in the wind.
- String – A piece of string, of approximately five feet in length, sufficient to thread in and out of the bamboo and the plywood. Three pieces of string, each approximately 10 inches in length, to hang the hammer and four pieces of string each about 12 inches in length. Three to hang the finished chime from, and one for the windcatcher.
- Drill and wood bits – An electric or battery drill with assorted wood bits.
- Saw – A fine-toothed saw for cutting your bamboo to the required lengths.
- Jigsaw – An electric or battery Jigsaw, for cutting out the pieces of plywood.
- Glue – A hot glue gun and wood glue sticks to fit it.
- Paint or varnish – Paint or varnish to protect and decorate the plywood. Use exterior paint or marine varnish.
- Oil or varnish – Oil or varnish to protect the bamboo from water and sun damage. Use pure Tung oil or marine varnish.
What is the Best String to Use for Wind Chime?
It’s recommended that you use a braided cord as your string. It’s durable and strong, and your knots can be nicely tight. A strong fishing wire can also be used if you want the cords to be slightly less visible.
Whatever you decide to use, keep in mind the size of the drill bit you use to make the threading holes in the plywood and bamboo. Ensure that it’s of an appropriate size for the thickness of the string or cord.
Instruction for Making a Bamboo Wind Chime
1. Cut bamboo to length
Cut your bamboo into five or six different, graduated lengths, bearing in mind that you will need each piece to consist of at least two natural segments of the bamboo. A handy tip here is to cut approximately one inch above the partitioning segment. This will be the part that has the string threaded through it.
2. Cutting bamboo to shape
The open tube end will need to have a piece cut out of it. This can be a tricky operation, and I’ve found that securing the bamboo in a vice makes the process easier.
You may wish to start your cut just below the lower partitioning segment and create an aesthetically pleasing curve down to the bottom of the bamboo. If you are going to use a knife for this, then extra care should be taken, as bamboo splinters can be quite painful.
Splitting the hollow end in this way will help the wind travel up through the tube, which increases the sound produced.
3. Drilling the holes
Drill two holes at the top of each of the bamboo pieces, one on either side, to thread your string. Again, this may be easier if the bamboo is held securely in a vice.
If you want the open concave bottom channel to be facing out when hanging, then ensure that the holes are drilled parallel to the cut section at the bottom and do the same for each piece of bamboo.
4. Cutting the plywood hanging disc
In order to calculate what size to cut your plywood disc, measure the diameter of each piece of bamboo you’ll be using and add them together, then add an extra one. So, if you used six pieces of one-inch bamboo, the disc needs to be 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter. Mark the circle and cut it out with a jigsaw.
5. Marking up your hanging disc
Using a pencil and a measure, divide the circle of plywood into the number of parts as you have bamboo tubes. In our example, we have six tubes, so our 7-inch disc would be equally divided into six equal ‘pizza slices.’
Then at the edge of the disc, measure out and mark ¾ of an inch on either side of the six drawn lines and ¾ of an inch in from the edge.
Using the marks you’ve just made, drill the holes for the string to be threaded. Then drill three more holes in the disc, about 4 inches from the center. Make sure they are equally spaced apart.
Thread your string through one of the holes at the edge of your plywood and tie a large knot to prevent it from slipping. Then, use a sewing process to thread the string through each piece of bamboo and up through the adjacent two holes in your plywood.
Repeat this until you have threaded all your bamboo onto the plywood. When you reach the last hole, tie it off firmly after staggering your chimes, as explained below.
8. Stagger the chimes
Once threaded, you can raise or lower each individual bamboo stick so that they are slightly staggered. This allows you to change the sound that you get when the hammer hits each bamboo chime.
9. Making the hammer
Out of your plywood, cut out another disc. This one needs to be one and a half times smaller than your first disc, so if the first disc was 7 inches, this one would need to be 5 and a half inches.
From the center of the disc, measure out about 1 inch and mark out three equally spaced dots where you will drill the three holes to hold your hammer strings. Drill the three holes plus one extra in the center of the disc.
10. Stringing your hammer
Tie a knot in each of the three pieces of string for your hammer. Thread one through each of the holes in the smaller plywood disc starting from the bottom. Thread all three up through one of the three adjacent holes in your larger disc.
Make sure the hammer is sitting straight and is just where you want it. Use your glue gun to secure the strings in place on the top of the larger disc. And trim the excess string.
11. Hanging string
In the same way in which the hammer was strung, repeat the process with the remaining three pieces of string through the top disc. This will be your hanging string. Tie the three strings together so it all looks neat and tidy.
12. Breeze catcher
Cut out an attractive shape of your choice from the remaining plywood. This will be used to dangle below the hammer to catch the breeze. This helps the hammer to knock against the bamboo and create the desired tonal effects.
Make a hole in the top of the breeze catcher and thread a string through it and up through the central hole of your hammer. Adjust the length to make it visually pleasing. It should hang a little below the bottom of the bamboo tubes.
With your bamboo wind chime almost finished, take your glue gun and secure all the pieces of string where they go through a hole after ensuring all are still where you want them to be. It’s best to hang your wind chime up to do this.
Paint or varnish the plywood to provide some protection against the elements. Use pure tung oil on the bamboo inside and out.
If there are any loose strings, use your glue gun on the ends to help protect and secure them.
How do you Care for Bamboo Wind Chimes?
During the winter, your bamboo wind chimes should not be left outside. Rain and cold weather can degrade the bamboo and cause it to crack and become infected with mold.
When you take them down each autumn, take the time to give them a clean by wiping them with a damp cloth to remove dirt or any mold. Replace any frayed or broken strings. Using fishing line can give the illusion of your chimes defying gravity.
To further protect your chimes, apply a fresh coat of varnish and oil, so they are ready for you to re-hang in the spring or summer. By doing this, your creation will last for many years.
If you want to modify the tone of your bamboo wind chimes, then altering the length of the bamboo will change the sound it makes. The longer the bamboo stick, the deeper the sound.
You might want to consider making more than one chime, perhaps if you can source some thicker bamboo poles, just follow the instructions and adapt the measurements accordingly, and you’ll have the opportunity to create a range of sounds.
Making your own set of bamboo wind chimes is a fun craft activity you can share with other family members, even children, if supervised.
The chimes make a pleasant, hollow tinkling sound that’s great for teaming up with running water features for a relaxing background noise in your yard.
When well maintained, they will give pleasure for many years, and they make great personal homemade gifts!
For more interesting ideas on what to do with bamboo, or for information on a broad range of other homestead topics, take a look at our other articles.